Abuja 16th May 2018.The President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Jean-Calude Kassi Brou presented the Commission’s strategic plan as well as a Report of the state of the Community to the ECOWAS Parliamentarians on the 15th of May 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.
Addressing the 1st Ordinary Session of the 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament, in the Community’s three official languages, President Brou enthused that the year 2018 is expected to be marked by increased growth compared to the previous year “within the context of a more favourable global environment”
Apart from raising awareness among national stakeholders with a view to accelerating the ratification and effective implementation of ECOWAS Conventions and Protocols, the President told the august gathering that the Commission is poised to working closely with all ECOWAS Institutions, particularly the Parliament to strengthen actions aimed at fostering a peaceful and politically stable national and regional environment.
The inter-institutional collaboration, he continued, is meant to also support the implementation of the various community programmes such as the Common External Tariff (CET), ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), Free Movement of Persons, goods and services, Single Currency Programme among others.
President Brou’s 47 page presentation which was laced with facts and statistics gave an overview of the implementation of the Community work programme, taking into account the latest decisions of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at their Ordinary session which held on the 16th of December 2017 in Abuja as well as their extraordinary session which took place in Addis Ababa in January 2018.
It touched on the political situation of the region while giving a concise and relevant appraisal of the global and regional economic environment, Africa’s economic prospects, the economic performance in Member States, the ECOWAS planning horizon consisting of its main vision, regional strategic plan and the community strategic framework, (2016-2020), as well as the development of the ECOWAS Post 2020 vision document.
On the implementation of the community work programme, the President highlighted the role of Political Affairs, Peace and Security in bringing about a more stable region. He cited commendable peace building achievements in this regard in Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Mali and Togo. While noting the successful conduct of elections in Liberia and Sierra Leone, he expressed optimism that all would also go well in the states of Mali, Senegal and Nigeria where elections are yet to hold.
Mr. Brou also gave explanations regarding the state of play in matters of economic and monetary Integration, looking at the ECOWAS Customs code, Economic Partnership Agreement, African continental Free Trade Area, Community Development Programme and the ECOWAS Single Currency.
In the area of infrastructure, Private sector promotion and Industry, he highlighted Joint boarder programmes, the Mano River Union Road Development and Transport facilitation programme, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor development programme as well as the Dakar-Abidjan Corridor Development Project as critical growth facilitating projects where substantial progress have been made.
With regards to energy, the President cited agreements entered into with banks and institutions such as the African Development Bank to move the region forward. He particularly drew attention to the study for the extension of the West African gas pipeline network as well as the study for the development of the ECOWAS rural and peri-urban electrification master plan to allow for the start of their implementation.
Noting that issues surrounding food security, agriculture, environment and water resources are being taken seriously by the Commission, Mr. Brou referred to the pastoral situation in the region while giving details on the setting up of a regional food stock and the ongoing formulation of several programmes including the West African Agricultural Transformation Programme (WAATP) for the 15 Member States, among others.
The presentation also dwelled on human development and social affairs, Telecommunications and Information Technology, international cooperation, Institutional matters, as well as an acknowledgment of the activities of other ECOWAS Institutions.
President Brou said significant progress have been made in the implementation of several community programmes, particularly in the area of economic integration, peace and regional security, political governance and sectorial policies while assuring that “continued efforts needs to be pursued to address challenges that remain strong, complex and diverse”
He also fielded questions from the community parliamentarians on the security situation in the region, herders-farmers conflict among others. After giving direct responses, President Brou assured “We are open to Parliament in working out solutions to all the issues raised”.
On Morocco’s application to join ECOWAS, Mr. Brou said the Authority of Heads of State will make a final decision after giving an in-depth study of the status report currently being worked upon.